Too often in our society, people picture men in their heads when they hear words like, “boss”, “entrepreneur”, or “CEO”. Being a small business owner has put me in touch with so many successful female business owners and entrepreneurs that when I hear these words, I often picture a woman or I just don’t assume anything at all. Women are obviously just as capable as men when it comes to the business world and it is high time that women business owners and entrepreneurs are more visible in the media in our society. This is where the idea for Women in Business was born. Women in Business is a bi-weekly feature that highlights female entrepreneurs and business owners. Not only is it a fantastic opportunity to learn more about small businesses in various fields, but it is a great shopping guide for supporting small businesses.
An Interview with Sonia from Stash
Tell us a little bit about Stash. What exactly do you do and what is your favorite thing about doing it?
Stash is a yarn shop in Corvallis, Oregon. More than a yarn shop, it’s a place to get inspired and to step outside your creative comfort zone. This can happen in a variety of ways, from learning a new skill or technique to stretching into a new color palette or style. I believe that we are all Creative beings, and that we have something inside of us bursting to come out into the world. This may be through craft or art, but also other ways that aren’t typically thought of as “creative.”
My work is inspired by helping people who want to connect to that creative energy through yarn. It has such potential to heal, to transform, and energize. If all of that sounds a little woo-woo, and you’re thinking “it’s just yarn”, think about how great you feel when you make something from nothing. When you make a great meal, grow a tomato, teach a child a new skill, figure out a new way to solve a problem–these kinds of things are creative acts that give us a sense of accomplishment. That feeling is attainable through so many outlets. For me it’s knitting, and for you it may be something else. Whatever it is, find it and give it everything you have.
At Stash, I do everything from choosing yarn colors and managing staff to creating strategies for growing the business and working on special projects. I’m lucky enough to have gathered together a great team who run the day to day business which frees me up to direct the creative vision of the shop, manage the blog and social media, and work on special projects like our new podcast!
What/who inspires you and your work?
I’m a very visual person, so when I need inspiration I tend look toward photography, textiles, food, and nature. These things help get me thinking outside of what I already know and push myself to try new things. There’s always a new shape, color combination to be discovered in the natural world. Getting outside also helps me clear my head and shake of the confusion and doubt that can creep in.
I’m also a voracious reader and love non-fiction and memoirs. Currently I’m a little obsessed with the work of Brene Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert. These are two incredibly smart, creative women who are working to bring such important stories and ideas out into the world. Looking toward other creatives not only validates my work, it helps me work hard and smarter to achieve my goals.
What are three things that help you run your business efficiently on a daily basis?
- My iPhone. From Google Docs and calendar alerts (to help keep my baby-brain from taking over) to managing social media and taking pictures for the shop, I love having such a versatile tool at my fingertips.
- My amazing team. I could not do a fraction of what I do without the support of an engaged, committed staff of talented folks.
- Compartmentalizing. I have work time and family time, and it’s rare that the two cross paths. When I am at the shop or working from home, I have a limited amount of time to really focus and crank out the work. Knowing this keeps me (mostly) on task and really efficient. Then when I’m with my kiddos I try to be as present as possible with them. That doesn’t mean I’m not often thinking about work projects in the back of my mind, but I’m not on the computer or the phone. It’s important to me that my children know that they can have big dreams and go after anything they want in life. I’m trying to show them that I can have a successful business, and that being an entrepreneur doesn’t have to mean sacrificing family time and working 24/7.
What was the best piece of advice you were given?
I went through Marie Forleo’s B-School when Stash was in its first year. During that time I was in a major learning curve, and was feeling a lot of pressure to please everyone. From managing my own expectations, as well as those of employees, vendors and customers, it sometimes felt that everyone wanted something. I was also navigating the transition from being a stay-at-home mama to being a working mom. This was tough. And for a long time I thought that I had to give everyone what they wanted in order for the business to be successful.
At some point during B-School, Marie’s said “If it ain’t a Hell Yes, then it’s a Hell No!” and blew my mind. Kind of funny, but I keep going back to that again and again when I’m having a hard time making a decision. It’s a silly way of saying listen to your intuition, go with the things you’re passionate and committed to. The rest is noise. When I started going back to the roots of why I started the business and got really clear on my vision again, things exploded. I go back to this advice again and again.
What has surprised you the most about being a small business owner?
The way that my business impacts other people has been humbling. I always hoped that creating a welcoming creative space would bring together a community of creative people. But I never imagined how many people we would inspire, motivate, and connect to one another, and how touching it would be to become a part of their stories.
What goals do you have for Stash over the next three years?
We just launched our first podcast where I discuss creativity, motivation, and staying inspired with other creative business owners. In addition to the work we’re doing in the brick and mortar store, I hope that this platform will help reach more people with the message that creativity is essential. Who knows, maybe there will be a book someday!
How do you define success as a business owner?
This is a tricky question. I have goals for my business, and I have personal goals for myself and my family. I think that the more those two goals are in alignment with one another, the more peaceful and successful my life feels.
One of my early goals for Stash was to create a space (in person and online) where people could come to feel part of a creative community. As long as that stays at the center of everything else we’re creating, I know our goals have been achieved.